The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has withdrawn the permission given to the Institute for the Advancement of Transdisciplinary to conduct excavations at Pattanam and Mathilakam in Kerala. ASI found that the institute was using the logo and name of ASI without prior permission. They also found that they were charging interns, which was against the norms laid out by ASI.
The organiser weekly was the first to bring out irregularities in the said excavation project. 'PAMA is headed by a team that has nothing to do with archaeology in qualification or experience. Its chairperson RVG Menon retired as an academic in engineering. Its director P J Cherian did his PhD in 1993 from the University of Calicut on “The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings of 1946”. He did his M Phil (1985) and MA (1978) in history and has no academic qualification in archaeology,' the report said.
It was also found that permission for the excavation was granted without any consultations and from the very beginning, various allegations were raised but were ignored by the concerned authorities. Even the Cultural ministry was kept in dark and was not provided with any information about the excavations.
'Major archaeologists such as Professor Dilip Chakrabarti, in his work ‘Nation First’ (2014) strongly criticised Pattanam excavations. Professor Vasant Shinde of Deccan College, who excavated Rakhigarhi, has also criticised Pattanam excavations. Major archaeologists such as R Nagaswamy, A Sundara and T Satyamurti also criticised Pattanam excavations', the Organiser report had mentioned.
The permission for conducting excavations for the session 2020-2021 was given on June 6, 2021. In the letter sent to Dr P J Cheriyan, director of the Institute for the Advancement of Transdisciplinary, ASI has also pointed out that any such violation of guidelines was not acceptable.